I waited all year to get together with my friends for our annual golf vacation. It was supposed to be perfect, but we bought “the package” and our outing turned out to be simply adequate. We all had such high hopes, but we had to take what the package provided.
Sound familiar? Have you been on the receiving side of a less than perfect golf vacation? In all fairness, most golf packages are good. Some are great. But they truly are packages designed for the mass market with little flexibility and no individual flair.
A standard golf vacation package provides lodging and one round of golf per day, including a cart. The lodging usually means motel or hotel accommodations with two people per bedroom. In most cases, you can choose from several different courses, and select your advance tee times. They will even throw in a continental breakfast. The prices are fair, but varying from the standard package starts adding cost in a hurry.
Again, “the package” will yield a good to great vacation, but we need to discuss the perfect vacation. Envision this:
-A beautiful vacation house with a separate bed or bedroom for each person.
-Gourmet dining each evening.
-As much or as little golf as you want, where you want and when you want.
I have been setting up this type of annual golf vacation for my old high school and college friends since 1988. Over those 18 years, we have refined Our Event to what we think is the perfect annual outing. Our first few years were terrific even though we had to keep the costs down. Each new year improves on the last.
We have settled on a full seven days, Saturday to Saturday. In general, we schedule 36 holes per day, and modify that day by day to wind up with an average of about 27 holes per day. Our smallest group was five gents one year, and the largest group was sixteen. The perfect group size is eight, but anywhere from six to twelve works great.
We buy most of the food and beverages the day of arrival to support breakfasts, snacks, sandwiches between rounds, and gourmet evening meals for the entire week.
Your perfect group golf vacation is not going to be identical to ours, but the general organization will be. There is going to have to be a “go to guy” that organizes the event. My guess is that will be you. You will need to:
- Get the ball rolling early.
- Have everyone stay in the same house that has a full kitchen.
- Get the shopping list together ahead of time.
- Have a general schedule and loose assignments.
1. Get the ball rolling. Pick out a window of time and get the word out to everyone you think might be interested AND not interested (next year, they may be). I send a fun, whimsical email about five months ahead of a proposed block of time. It is written such that the wives enjoy the comedy as much as the guys. If you are not a writer, there are examples in my upcoming free Ebook. Additionally, this book will take you through setting up and conducting the whole event from scratch.
Follow up emails get commitments and solicit recommendations and special requests. Armed with all this, you will select the ideal house, set up tee times, and arrange rental vehicles. Further emails from you will ask what food, snacks and beverages they will want for the outing. Here is a good time line:
-5 months: Announce.
-3 months: Receive all commitments and solicited recommendations.
-3 months: Let everyone know when to fly in to coordinate travel.
-2 months: Arrange house, tee times and rental cars.
-1 month: Receive all food, snack, and beverage requests.
-1 month: Confirm house, tee times and rental cars.
-1 week: Finalize food and beverage list.
Zero hour: Have the time of your life.
2. House with a full kitchen. This allows several things:
- Preparing your own evening meal. Every group has at least one “chef”.
- Rehashing the day as a group (yes, this includes an appropriate amount of trash talk and begging for strokes on upcoming rounds.)
- Having evening entertainment as a group. We watch a sports event on TV, watch videos, play cards, tell tales and get caught up, or all of the above.
- Getting sandwiches, snacks and beverages ready for the next day.
3. Shopping List. In my free Ebook I provide a sample shopping list and sample emails to send requesting input. Your various emails to the group should provide a “fill in the blank” type of requested reply. You will ask what they want for breakfast, what they want for sandwich lunch, what they want to drink for the week, and any snacks they like.
4. General Schedule and Assignments. Your first year will be a terrific learning experience. Your “chef” will emerge and others will gravitate to where they are needed. Putting together a list of what needs to be done and having volunteers will work just fine. Over the years, you will find what works best.
Think about bringing a laptop and uploading each day’s results on your website so that the unfortunate people that did not make the trip can live vicariously by following the daily action. If you don’t have a website, a free blog will work about as well and will be much easier to update. An idea that our group has not yet acted on is having a masseuse come in one evening later in the week to help our aging muscles.
You will have almost as much fun setting up this event as you will have during your vacation. I set up a little eight page website with history, photos, schedule, past scores, etc. to hold everyone’s interest and attention throughout the year. An example is in my free Ebook.
Building your own special vacation not only allows you to really tailor your outing to your group’s tastes, but also allows you all to get together as a true group for a great week of camaraderie. As a bonus, it should wind up being less expensive! Once you set your own up, I doubt you will ever buy “the package” again.